Part of my day job is testing electrical equipment, particularly what they term as In-Service Electrical Equipment, and it frequently includes rentals, Airbnb, landlords and holiday lets. (tool hire, offices, schools, IT etc as well) So I thought I would throw this Q&A out there in case anyone has any questions about the requirements/obligations related to your Airbnb in the UK. I'm competent for UK regulations.
I hasten to add I am not chasing work, I have plenty. Just offering free advice, giving back to the community and fellow hosts.
@Steve779 There is no obligation to have PAT Testing for Airbnb, in fact there is no law to say that anyone has to have anything PAT Tested at all, or even keep records. In law all you have to do is take reasonable care that your electrical items where staff or customers come in contact with them are safe. eg. secure plugs, good condition flexes, and the right fuse in the plug for the appliance.
Kettles, hoovers, hair dryers are the main culprits and generally fail because of dodgy (worn) flexes,, which can be obvious.
I'm glad you asked, we can bust some myths! Some firms try and tell potential customers that its a legal requirement when it isn't a legal requirement in the first place.
Even when items are tested stickers are not actually required.
Generally you'll get a certificate with a list of the items tested. Then if there is a claim or an accident you have proof that you took reasonable care by getting a competent person to check it all for you.
But you can visually check and inspect your appliances yourself, and you may as well keep a record just in case.
Some organisations have everything tested once a year, thinking this puts the responsibility on someone else if an accident or claim happens, and once a year is an easy one to remember, and easy peace of mind, and someone has to be responsible in an organisation for checking all this stuff, so they call in the test engineer.
A visual check is normally enough, plugs, flex and the item undamaged. And switch it on to make sure it works, but if you are a remote host or a letting agent you may as well get a local engineer to check the electrical items, or rely on your cleaner to check everything.
Going rate in Cornwall for (say) a holiday let with average number of items is still only around £30 these days, up to 20 items, the visual checks take longer than the electrical tests, and generally a fail is due to a frayed or damaged flex or plug, or a wrong fuse fitted (eg 13 amp plug/fuse on bedside lamp and easily fixed for pennies while you have the plug top off).
Contrary to some myths there is no set testing schedule. In theory it's just common sense. Some hand tools would be sensible at 6 or 12 months, more often for site tools or hire tools,some items can be 4 or 5 years. The more an item gets plugged/unplugged and the more portable it is the more often it needs checking, and the person who uses it just has to know (eg a the vacuum cleaner can be checked by the cleaner for flex and plug damage, likewise the iron, kettle, hair dryer).
New appliances don't need checking as they go straight into service from a factory and are compliant.
imho testing is pretty useful for sorting the good from the bad with some of the cheap Chinese electrical stuff and fakes, power supplies, phone chargers etc, but as long as you make sure your Airbnb guests kettles, toasters etc have proper moulded plugs, undamaged leads and are in good condition , and preferably not running on extension leads or double socket adapters you will have taken reasonable care.
Some good FAQs here https://www.hse.gov.uk/electricity/faq-portable-appliance-testing.htm
An excellent original article, whilst your answer to one of the comments (I've yet to read the other one!) was first class as well.
As a responsible Airbnb Host, and one who always has his Guests' health and welfare in mind, I do believe that in the same way that Smoke Alarms' and annual Landlords' Gas Safety Certificates' are mandatory for Landlords and Hosts, so should also be Carbon Monoxide Alarms and PAT Testing.
Whilst there have - over the years - been many instances of both deaths and "very lucky escapes" due to Carbon Monoxide poisoning, I must admit to being nonplussed as to why (in the UK) it is still only "suggested" that households install such detectors, especially as Carbon Monoxide cannot be seen, cannot be smelled, and if not discovered in time, it's deadly quiet as well!
Anyway, returning to the subject of PAT Testing, there is currently the anomaly that whereas for the likes of Landlords and Hosts (and anyone else that allows tenants, holidaymakers etc to stay within the formers' properties) such Testing is advisable, there's still - as I'm sure you are aware - a high percentage of people who haven't heard about PAT testing, let alone know the reason for testing!
What concerns me however, and far more than whether I arrange for a yearly check of not only all portable appliances within my holiday cottage, but of my electrical circuitry as well, is that all holidaymakers bring with them for their own use during their stay, various appliances that may or may not have been PAT tested, and/or may or may not be safe to use.
Short of asking Guests whether their appliances have been PAT tested (might raise a few eyebrows at such a question!) or telling Guests that they can't use their own appliances in our property (!) houseowners' do have to consider the situation should a Guest's own appliance be the cause of either a very bad shock (at best) or a death/fire at worst!
In the absence of ALL electrical appliances being PAT Tested therefore, the one major thing we should all ensure we have in place, is a cast-iron Insurance Policy to cover property owners against any claims for injury and/or death when and where it can be proven that the fault for such cannot be laid at the door of the property owner.
Sounds a good enough reason to me for PAT testing and certification on a regular (at least yearly) basis?!
@John2406 For light use on your own stuff an alternative is a PAT *checker* (not a tester) under £100. Simply lights up with pass or fail without telling you what the fault is. I am not sure how often they need calibration, or whether they need it at all.
PAT *Testers^ themselves are from around £200 upwards and need calibrating annually at a cost of £25 to £80. Battery operated machines are much more convenient to use. Without a calibration certificate you can pick old models up for a few punds on auction sites.
Many new entry level machines are designed to be fairly foolproof and safe for IT equipment, aiming at the person who wants to test his own stuff regularly or a small organisation.
Careful when looking, as the PAT Test industry is like the Gold Rush, the people selling the shovels make the money ;)
Re the type of things travellers may bring with them see a youtbe channel by BigClive (i'll try a link) https://www.youtube.com/user/bigclivedotcom for some terrible imported horrors, stinger kettles etc. It can be quite funny.
We supply phone chargers, and have USB sockets in the room, I once had a cheap phone charger ignite myself, so I know where you are coming from.
We availed ourselves of the free Carbon monoxide detector/smoke detector which Airbnb offer to hosts, and it's a very good one. Thank you Airbnb! https://www.airbnb.co.uk/trust/home-safety